My ex-spouse is entitled to how much? A new change to the law gives spouses more.

My ex-spouse is entitled to how much? A new change to the law gives spouses (and ex-spouses) of those who die without a Will even more of their estate

I have a foolproof way of helping insomniacs fall asleep without resorting to medication, crystals, ointments, or any woo woo whatsoever. Here’s my trick:

Step 1: explain the importance of having a Will

Step 2: repeat step 1 in more detail until the result is achieved

My 2 step program is a tried and true method of curing even the hardest insomnia cases. I have dozens of case studies to back it up.

The subject of Wills is very boring. We get it. Most people know they should get a Will done but never do. Some people say, “why do I care about who gets my money when I’m gone?” or “I should do that someday, but I just don’t have the time now.” I think part of it is because most people don’t want to think about their own death and they just have better things to do with their time, like, binge-watching the new season of The Crown.

I find fear can be a great motivator. Think about this: if you are separated and not divorced, your ex-spouse could receive all of your money after you die! Sufficiently scared, I thought so.

For many of our clients who are going through or have gone through a separation, the last thing they want is for their ex-spouse to be entitled to any part of their estate, let alone their entire estate. However, that is exactly what will happen unless they 1) get a divorce, 2) have a separation agreement that disentitles the spouse from benefitting from their estate, or 3) have a Will stating otherwise. At Galbraith Family Law, we can help you with all options, but today let’s talk about option 3.

So, what exactly does the law say about ex-spouses and their right to benefit from a spouse’s estate? The first thing to know is the law does not care if you are together or separated. Until you are divorced, you are spouses.

The next thing to note is how an estate is distributed when a person dies without a Will. Prior to March 1, 2021, a spouse was entitled to the first $200,000 of their spouse’s estate and then one-third of the remainder. As of March 1, 2021, a spouse is now entitled to the first $350,000 of their spouse’s estate and one-third of the remainder. So, unless your estate is worth over $350,000, your ex-spouse will get everything. This is terrifying to many separated spouses, particularly those who have already given their ex-spouse half their money in a separation.

If you have managed to stay awake for this entire article, well done. I warned you this was going to be boring. My hope is the fear of your ex-spouse receiving all your money and property after you die was like a cup of espresso to your system. If you fell asleep, you probably needed a good nap. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

So how do you protect yourself? The answer is simple: have a Will drafted by a Galbraith Family Law lawyer. We will work with you to ensure your instructions are clearly laid out in a legally binding Will. To book your Will appointment today, please contact our office and one of our intake workers would be happy to assist you. After a quick nap, of course.

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Rod Grierson

Rod completed his law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School. Prior to attending law school, he received a bachelor of arts degree in international development studies from Trent University. Prior to joining Galbraith Family Law, Rod worked as an associate at a full-service firm in Barrie. Rod’s passion for family law was born out of his experiences in law school. While there he volunteered at family court assisting low income individuals complete their court documents, worked at the legal aid clinic on campus, and assisted refugees and asylum seekers prepare for their hearings.

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